If you decided to breed your lovely dog there is so much information that you need to learn, first How to Breed a Female Dog Safely and Successfully and after that, you have to learn all about Dog Pregnancy. For most people especially fur parents welcoming a new litter of puppies into their home, it is a very exciting and wonderful event however together with this, there is also a big responsibility that will accompany. A dog pregnancy is also very stressful if you are not prepared, it is also time-consuming and costly but all this will be very rewarding if you see your bitch and her puppies healthy and happy.
- Breeding your dog will come with a big responsibility, you have and must be prepared physically emotionally, and financially.
- Consult your trusted veterinarian to make sure your female dog is healthy before, during, and after pregnancy.
- Learn everything about dog pregnancy, the sign, care, and things you need to prepare to make sure to have a healthy mother and puppies.
- Be a responsible fur parent, make sure all puppies that will be born will have a forever home and family that will love them eternally.
How to Know if My Dog is Pregnant
The date of breeding doesn’t always match the date of conception, this is the reason why it’s hard to tell the exact date of the delivery of the puppies. Dogs are pregnant for approximately 58-68 days or two 1/2 months however it can vary because of the mother dog and litter size.
To know if your dog is pregnant the veterinarian will conduct the following pregnancy test:
1. Blood Test – This test will measure the levels of a hormone called relaxin (a hormone produced by the developing placenta following implantation of the embryo) in the blood. This hormone level is raised throughout dog pregnancy and will decline quickly following the end of the pregnancy.
Relaxin can be detected in the blood in most pregnant females as early as 22-27 days post-breeding.
2. Abdominal Palpitation – This is done at 28 days from gestation by gently pressing on the surface of the abdomen with the fingers to feel or detect if there are swellings in the uterus of your dog that signal the presence of developing puppies.
This is the old way of detecting pregnancy in dogs. Abdominal palpation should not be done by just anyone it should and must only do by the person with experience doing it (specifical veterinarian) because it can put the puppies (if there is) and the mother in danger if not done properly.
3. Ultrasound – It is the most reliable way of detecting and monitoring pregnancy in dog, ultrasound confirmation is possible as early as 20-22 day after breeding but best to do at the 30th day to give accurate confirmation.
Ultrasound can also assess the viability of the fetuses but not so accurate to find out the exact number of puppies inside the womb.
4. X-ray – Is the most reliable in detecting dog pregnancy in the last trimester of gestation (three weeks before whelping), with x-ray the vet can see the bone structures of the puppies to check if there is any deformity, it is also the best way to use to count the exact number of puppies to be delivered.
Signs of Dog Pregnancy
Aside to diagnostic testing that your vet will do to determine if a dog is pregnant, there are signs of dog pregnancy that you alone can observe. The following are some signs of dog pregnancy:
- Increase in appetite (some decrease in appetite for a few days in the first few weeks due to changes in hormones)
- Weight gain
- Increase in nipple size
- Swollen belly
- Can get more easily tired
- Nesting behavior
- More affectionate
- Decrease of activity
- Vomiting (if severe bring your dog to the vet immediately)
Once you confirmed your dog’s pregnancy it’s very important to talk to your vet for proper advice on how to take care of a pregnant dog and what you should and need to learn for her labor and after birth.
Dog Pregnancy Calendar
Dog pregnancy goes on for about 63 days (9 weeks) but like in humans it varies depending on your dog breed and litter size. In some soon to be mother dog new puppies may arrive in as little as 56 days (8 weeks) or up to 70 days (10 weeks).
Below is the Week by Week Timeline of Pregnancy in dogs:
If your dog goes into labor earlier than 8 weeks or hasn’t given birth by 10 weeks, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Can Dogs Get Pregnant without Locking?
If ejaculation happens, your bitch can get pregnant without the male not locked to her, it is called slip mating.
Female dogs can produce puppies in one litter from two different sires so it is not advisable to mate your bitch to another male dog when slip mating happens to the first male dog because pregnancy may have occurred with slip mating if you mate her to another male dog it will be difficult to determine who is the father of the litters.
How Can I Take Care of My Pregnant Dog at Home?
Like humans, pregnancy in dogs is very difficult yet so rewarding. Once you have determined that your dog is pregnant you should take care of her more carefully to make sure she stays healthy throughout her pregnancy.
The following are some things you should do and keep in mind to properly care your pregnant dog:
It is very advisable to have a prenatal checkup to make sure your dog is healthy to carry a new life. All the vaccines of your bitch should be up-to-date it is to prevent inherent parasites or viruses to the litters.
Regular veterinary visits can help your dog stay healthy during pregnancy. You should ask your vet what to do incase of the emergency.
Once your vet confirms your dog’s pregnancy she/he must discuss with you the planning on whether a normal birth or cesarean is needed for your dog. Your vet will examine your dog for any mechanical or anatomical concerns your dog may have that could prevent her from having a normal whelped litter with that she/he will know whether your dog needs to be cesarean so you can prepare in advance.
When your dog is pregnant they need to be given a wormer called Fenbendazole every day from day 40 of pregnancy until 2 days after the puppies are born to prevent the puppies inside the mother’s womb to get worms from their mum when they are born.
Diet and Nutrition
Proper nutrition is very important for dog but it becomes more important when your dog is pregnant, as a fur parent it is your duty to make sure that your pregnant dog is receiving proper nutrition.
When your dog is already on a good quality dog food and is at a healthy weight for her size you don’t have to make any changes to her diet because any changes in her diet could harm your dog if not properly done.
In the last few weeks of your dog pregnancy her weight will increases in that your vet will recommend increasing her food intake gradually, until she consumes 35-to-50 percent more than usual.
During the first two weeks of gestation (time between conception and birth), it is advisable to limit your dog’s heavy exercise to enhance the implantation of the embryos. After 2-3 weeks, you can go back to your dog’s normal exercise, stop heavy exercise in her last trimester or when her belly enlarge to prevent miscarrage or any complication.
For the last trimester of your pregnant dog, the advisable exercise for her is a simple short frequent walk, it can help the mother build her energy and prepare for the delivery.
Preparing for Whelping (Giving Birth)
In the end of your dog pregnancy you will notice of enlargement of her breasts and nipples that indicates that it has now milk, her belly will also increase in size and you might even be able to see or feel the puppies moving around inside her belly. If you notice all of this it indicates that anytime your dog will give birth, it is the time to prepare all thing she needs and you need to assist her during whelping.
As the time your dog pregnancy ends approaches it is better to prepare a place (a room that is nice and cozy) for the mother to give birth comfortably.
The following are some things you need to Have for a birthing dog:
- Whelping box – can be a simple card board box, mini inflatable swimming pool, or a custom made whelping box. It is important to keep the puppies contained and safe. (make sure to make your mother dog accustomed to her whelping box before her whelping).
- Non-skid bath mats or Blanket
- Dry & clean towels – to clean the puppies, it is very important to clean the puppies immediately because they can get easily cold
- Paper towels
- Thermometer – used to monitor your dog’s temperature before whelping
- Clean & sterilized scissors – to cut the umbilical cords if the mother dog won’t cut her puppies umbilical cord
- Unwaxed dental floss – to tie off the umbilical cords to prevent it from bleeding.
- Iodine – to clean the puppies’ abdomens after the cord is cut and dab on the end of the cut umbilical cord
- Heat lamp – The Newborn puppies need to be in the warm room because they cannot maintain their own body heat for a week or two after birth. Heat lamp is the best way to help your newborn puppies keep warm, it must set high above the box on one corner only to allow the puppies to crawl to a cooler spot in a box. Make sure it will not be too hot.
- Bulb syringe – to clean puppies’ mucus on the nose and mouth
- A baby scale in ounces – to monitor the newborn puppies weight
- Canine milk replacement – if the mother dog can’t feed all the puppies at the same time
Note: List down your Veterinarian’s phone number or the number of a nearby emergency clinic so you can ask help if their is emergency during the labor or whelping.
How to Know if My Dog is in Labor
When your pregnant dog whelping time is approaches they will show signs of labor (can last from a few minutes to several hours) that will indicate you will see new puppies in your home in any moment.
The following is the sign that your dog is in labor:
- Building a nest
- Lack of Appetite – she will not eat or eat a little
- Excessive urination
- Clinginess – wants her owner attention
- Lower temperature – after a rectal temperature drops from 100-to-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit to 99 degrees Fahrenheit or even lower the delivery will follow by about 8 to 24 hours.
Possible Dog Labor Complications
If you notice your dog is in labor for a long period of time and shows signs of any of the following call your vet immediately or bring her to the nearest vet clinic as soon as possible because it can be some serious complication of labor in dog that might put the mother and the puppies in danger.
- Your dog shows no signs of whelping 64 days after her last mating
- The rectal temperature dropped more than 24 hours ago and labor isn’t starting.
- If mother doesn’t deliver the first puppy 2 hours after contractions begin
- More than 2 hours pass in between the delivery of puppies
- The mother discharge a dark green or bloody fluid before the first puppy deliver ( it is normal if the discharge happen after 1st puppy deliver)
- The mother experiences strong contractions for an hour without a birth
- The mother is trembling, collapsing, exhausted, or shivering ( its a serious signs that your dog is having complication and needs immediate care of the vet)
- All of the placentas aren’t delivered
Most dogs experience delivery without complications however, first-time mothers should be attended by their owners until at least one or two puppies are born. It is normal for the dog to go on a labor that will lasts 3-12 hours, her cervix and uterus prepare for delivery with smaller contractions that may not be visible to you, the abdominal contractions may begin slowly and gain strength some dog will start to strain and moans, the water sac come out when there’s a puppy in the birth canal, and within one hour the first puppy should be delivered (the passing of puppies usually takes between 3-12 hours but can take up to 24 hours it should take 20-60 minutes between puppies being born if it take longer than that call your vet).
The puppy is born enclosed in its placental membrane, the mother will lick it until it tears off, if the mother wont do that you should do it because the puppies cannot survive for more than a 6 minutes before their supply of oxygen runs out. You may need to rub the puppy with a clean and dry towel until you hear him/her cry, make sure that the puppy is completely dry to lower the risk of hypothermia. The mother dog will also cut the umbilical cord as she cleans her puppies, if she don’t do that you should cut it using scissor and tie using dental floss to prevent from bleeding, wipe the abdomen of all of the puppies with iodine to prevent infection.
When the puppies are born make sure they will latch the mother dog milk because it sets the stage for normal immune system function and protects them from disease. Also make sure that all the placenta (afterbirth) have been passed from the mother womb if their is left inside the mother’s womb call your vet.
How to Take Care a Dog After She Gives Birth?
If your dog gives birth at home make sure to bring them to the vet 1-3 days after the delivery is completed. It is important to pay a visit to your vets to check the mother and puppies health condition. The mother may receive an injection to contract the uterus and stimulate milk production. Sometimes antibiotics may be prescribed if it is thought there is any infection present.
It is normal for a mother to have bloody vaginal discharge for 3-7 days following delivery. but if it t continues for longer than one week or she develops a pus like or smelly discharge consult your veterinarian immediately because it could be indicate of some complication.
It is important for a mother dog to have always access to her food and water, she is nursing her puppies and she needs enough food to sustain it.
Contact your vet if you think your dog is having discomfort after giving birth to address the problem immediately and properly.